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Eye on Boise: Little disappointed as Labrador misses grazing hearing

Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little testifies at a House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing on public lands grazing on Thursday, July 12, 2018, in Washington, D.C. (Screenshot)
Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little testifies at a House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing on public lands grazing on Thursday, July 12, 2018, in Washington, D.C. (Screenshot)

When Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little went to Washington, D.C., to testify on Thursday at a congressional hearing on public lands grazing, he expected to see Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador there — Labrador serves on the Natural Resources subcommittee that was holding the hearing.

“I understand the congressman’s in town, but he wasn’t at the hearing,” Little said afterward. It turned out Labrador was at another hearing held at the same time.

Little, a third-generation rancher who was asked to speak from his perspective both as a state official and as a longtime rancher, touted Idaho’s formation of range fire protection associations, which allow ranchers to get firefighting training and equipment and serve as the first responders to fires near their ranches — speeding up the initial attack and knocking down range fires sooner.

“A lot of states want to know about our rural fire protection associations,” Little said after the hearing.

He also touted the work of Idaho’s state Office of Species Conservation, and called for states to have an increased role in species protection decisions.

“That’s part of the issue,” he said. “If we keep having these fires, there’s no amount of restrictions on grazing permits that are going to save the sage grouse.”

Little said he’d been briefed the night before on who would be there, and expected to see Labrador — who lost to Little in the May GOP primary for Idaho governor.

“Every time the door opened up during the hearing, I was looking to see who was walking in from the members’ side,” he said. “I was a little disappointed that he wasn’t there — I wouldn’t have minded seeing my congressman there.”

Labrador’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment, but Labrador was at another hearing that started at the same time as the 90-minute grazing hearing — an extraordinarily contentious 10-hour marathon hearing in which Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee grilled FBI agent Peter Strzok about whether he was biased against President Trump and whether that impacted the Russian election meddling investigation. The hearing devolved into a shouting match at several points.

When Labrador got his turn to question Strzok, he asked him, “How can you assure the American people that you are not lying today?”

Strzok responded, “Because one, as I said before, I’m doing it under oath. I’m telling you, having spent 26 years putting on a gun, putting my life at risk for this country, I am not lying to you right now.”

An aging Idaho…

Idaho’s population is getting older, the Idaho Department of Labor reports, with the number of Idahoans age 65 and older growing 8 percent from mid-2016 to mid-2017, the highest growth of any age group. Over the same time period, the state’s total population grew by 2.2 percent, according to estimates recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

All age groups saw growth, according to the figures, but seniors accounted for 33 percent of it.

Idaho’s median age was 36, as of mid-2017, which still is lower than the national median of 38. Adams County had the highest median age in Idaho at 55.

Two Idaho counties, Clearwater and Power, saw population decreases among younger age groups, with only the 65-and-over group increasing.

Crapo backs court pick

Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo spoke out strongly in favor of President Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court last week, after issuing a more circumspect statement a day earlier, in which he said only that Kavanaugh had a “strong background of legal experience” and he looked forward to reviewing the nomination. On Wednesday, as Crapo presided over a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he called Kavanaugh “an exemplary candidate for our nation’s highest court.”

“Judge Kavanaugh has been widely recognized for his judicial acumen and strong, detailed legal writing in defense of the Constitution,” Crapo said. “His opinions are widely cited by his fellow appellate judges and even by the Supreme Court. In short, he is a judge’s judge.”

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., then offered a sharply differing view, saying, “Judge Kavanaugh has consistently proven to be a conservative ideologue instead of a mainstream jurist. We have asked that the president consult with Democrats to come up with a list of mainstream jurists who could be nominated to the United States Supreme Court, and unfortunately that did not happen.” She added, “I cannot emphasize enough just how critical this next Supreme Court vacancy will be. … Judge Kavanaugh is not the kind of justice that will advance the principle of equal justice under the law, and should not be the one to fulfill this vacancy.”

Crapo responded, “I’m sure we will have plenty of time in this committee to evaluate this decision, this important decision.”


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